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Predicting the onset of psychosis in patients at clinical high risk: practical guide to probabilistic prognostic reasoning
  1. P Fusar-Poli1,2,
  2. F Schultze-Lutter3
  1. 1King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience, London, UK
  2. 2OASIS service, South London and the Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, London, UK
  3. 3University Hospital of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to Dr P Fusar-Poli, Department of Psychosis Studies, Institute of Psychiatry PO63, De Crespigny Park, London SE58AF, UK; paolo.fusar-poli{at}


Prediction of psychosis in patients at clinical high risk (CHR) has become a mainstream focus of clinical and research interest worldwide. When using CHR instruments for clinical purposes, the predicted outcome is but only a probability; and, consequently, any therapeutic action following the assessment is based on probabilistic prognostic reasoning. Yet, probabilistic reasoning makes considerable demands on the clinicians. We provide here a scholarly practical guide summarising the key concepts to support clinicians with probabilistic prognostic reasoning in the CHR state. We review risk or cumulative incidence of psychosis in, person-time rate of psychosis, Kaplan-Meier estimates of psychosis risk, measures of prognostic accuracy, sensitivity and specificity in receiver operator characteristic curves, positive and negative predictive values, Bayes’ theorem, likelihood ratios, potentials and limits of real-life applications of prognostic probabilistic reasoning in the CHR state. Understanding basic measures used for prognostic probabilistic reasoning is a prerequisite for successfully implementing the early detection and prevention of psychosis in clinical practice. Future refinement of these measures for CHR patients may actually influence risk management, especially as regards initiating or withholding treatment.

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